Since the early days of the pandemic, California has led the nation’s fight against COVID-19 through robust vaccination efforts rooted in science and data. This has helped slow the spread of the virus and save countless lives, especially in our most vulnerable communities – someone’s parent and friend, and each of them a Californian.
We’ve been meeting people where they are, from partnering with local grocery stores, schools, and barbershops, to developing media content in more than 19 languages to reach California’s richly diverse communities. California’s public health measures are working, and much of our success can be attributed to our greatest tool to ending the pandemic: vaccines.
December 14 marks the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine administered in California. We began by prioritizing vaccinations for our frontline health care workers and vulnerable older adults. Today, after a year of working in partnership with the federal government, local public health, and community partners, millions of Californians aged 5 and older are now protected and helping to protect others from this deadly virus.
We’ve administered 62 million doses – more than any other state. Eighty six percent of all eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 6 million adults have received a booster. I am so proud that Californians are quite literally rolling up their sleeves to help end the pandemic and keep each other safer.
The state has also made tremendous strides in closing vaccination equity gaps among our most vulnerable communities. Thanks to our dynamic partnerships with more than 130 faith-based and 700 community-based organizations, 77 percent of Californians living in our least healthy neighborhoods ages 12 and up have received at least one dose. Our work is far from over.
We must continue to practice basic safety tips to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities against COVID-19. This starts with getting fully vaccinated if you haven’t already, and getting your booster. Simply put, vaccination can help you avoid serious illness, hospitalization and death. It is also important that we wear a mask indoors – especially when we are uncertain of everyone’s vaccination status – keep gatherings short, small and outside if possible, get tested if you’re exposed to the virus, experiencing symptoms, or planning to travel, and stay home if you’re feeling sick.
It is especially important for those who are fully vaccinated to get their booster. This includes those 16 and up who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months prior, those 18 and up who received the Moderna vaccine at least six months before, and those 18 and over who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago. It’s critical that we keep our immunity strong, not just for ourselves, but for our communities. Even with the emergence of the Omicron variant, Californians have many reasons to remain hopeful because our state continues to move forward in the right direction.
I want to end this column with a personal note to each and every Californian. Californians have met every challenge with vigor and courage, and together, we will continue to lead the nation in the fight against COVID-19. I wish you all a very happy holiday season with heartfelt wishes for a happy, safer, and brighter new year to come.
For the latest information on the Omicron variant go to CDPH.ca.gov and to find a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose, visit MyTurn.ca.gov. To find a COVID-19 testing site, call (833) 422-4255 or visit your local county public health website.